Supporting Coordination in Water Resources Management and Development in West Africa

April 30, 2014

In a context of underutilized and highly variable water resources, chronic food insecurity, rapid population growth and very low access to electricity, development of hydraulic structures is a priority in West Africa (as part of the PIDA process). The region needs to develop its water resources and associated productive uses through cooperative water resources management and investment in sustainable infrastructure schemes. Cooperation is a key component of sustainable water resources management in West Africa because the region’s rivers and aquifers are largely international and many countries have to coordinate management across numerous international river basins. 

This activity aims to build a cohesion, linkages and synergies among the various CIWA activities in West Africa to help contribute to the regional agenda for development. The activities will augment the current CIWA engagement in basins such as Niger and Volta by working with regional organizations (e.g., RECs and Interstate Committees) to better align development agendas and sustainable water resource management and development objectives, and also facilitate investment in transboundary waters. The activity will work with the key stakeholders in West Africa – RBOs, CILSS, ECOWAS and others – on the following:

  • Clarifying the roles and linkages among (and within) the RBOs, RECs, regional organizations, and riparians with respect to transboundary water, and addressing areas that need better alignment and strengthening. The various organizations are established under different arrangements by the riparian states, and have wide ranging functions depending on their aim, legal and administrative systems, and human and financial resources. Better understanding how they could work with each other (without building additional institutional layers) could enhance efficiencies and synergies.
  • Drawing on the expertise of well-established RBOs (e.g., Senegal River Basin Organization (OMVS)) to document best practice and effectively sharing the knowledge and insights. The aim would be to assist RBOs in the region that need strengthening (e.g., Volta and other) and create a minimum standard in the region – e.g., development of suitable regulations for utilization of water resources and preservation and protection of the environment; sustainable financing; and benefit sharing.
  • Helping identify the gaps and measures necessary to advance potential investment opportunities (e.g., identify and delivering what is needed to move pre-feasibility studies for an investment to a feasibility study)
  • Building the institutional capacity of CILSS and ECOWAS (regional organizations with a clear mandate on integrated water resource management (IWRM)) to support RBOs in advancing investment opportunities. This could involve supporting the regional organizations to identify relevant information and capacity gaps; develop mechanisms to transfer the relevant information, or convening stakeholders to mobilize investment and financing for cooperation in management and development of transboundary waters.
  • Assisting newly established and less endowed RBOs in the region to meet their obligations with respect to the ECOWAS policy directive on the sustainability dimensions of the regional guidelines for large infrastructure. The latter include guidelines for social and environmental sustainability and gender. The activity would support piloting some of this guidance.